At the time, I wasn't willing to concede that it is joy we speak of here. The most I would say is, "I would not say that there is no benefit."
This statement was deliberated and concise at the time; yet I couldn't put my finger on why I said that, although I was sure that from within the context of my own experience, it was exactly the right thing to say.
I have been pondering this for nearly a week now, and I think I understand where my reservations lie, and what the nature of the relationship between sorrow, suffering, and joy — as we call it — is.
First of all, I turn the page back to something I wrote in 2003 in my original work on Chakras and the Enneagram. The point of this was that the entire universe, and everything in it, is made entirely of Love. This Love is a divine Love, the most absolute and divine Love of the most holy Sun Absolute, that is, God; and, of course, even though I had never heard of Emanuel Swedenborg at the time I wrote the essay, he wholeheartedly concurs in this evaluation, which is not conjecture, but what Gurdjieff would have called an objective truth.
But that is not all of the story.
I've had a great deal of time, not just over the past week, but the last 14 years, to ponder this question from many different points of view, and in my estimation, it goes something like this.
It's true that the universe — all of material creation, what Meister Eckhart calls creatures — encompassing not just living beings, but all concepts and inanimate objects as well — is constructed entirely of a vibration call Love, which exists rooted down at the level where the quantum state collapses and reality manifests, and governs all of its actions. That vibration and its collapse into material reality is inherently loving, a quality which can only be appreciated by receiving its vibration deep in Being and understanding how absolutely unconditional and inhuman — indeed, uncreated and in its origins unmanifested— it is.
I say inhuman because it is transcendental and incomprehensible to us except as an understanding received by our feeling center, which alone is the part that can receive its nature. (I should mention in passing that the majority of Meister Eckhart sermons are about precisely this feeling—perception.)
Yet this root of Love begins even deeper still, beyond its own unmanifested and uncreated nature, in a place that exists beyond time (Eckhart's eternity) in the heart of God's own soul.
If we were to describe this place in terms of physics, we would call this location a place — in so far as it can be a place, which is of course impossible —as the pre-big bang state; before time, and before creation, where creation and time are anticipated, along with absolutely all of their consequences, essentially infinite in nature. Physics calls that place a singularity: and it is a place with, so to speak, zero entropy, that is, a state of perfect order. Such a place is impossible for us to imagine from the point of view of science, because everything in the created universe is driven by entropy, that is, the tendency for things to wind down to the lowest energy state, where, roughly speaking, the least order exists.
This comprehensive anticipation of creation and time, this singularity, is the undivided, comprehensive mind of God as described by Ibn al 'Arabi in the Sufi saints, and it consists of an inestimable sorrow.
That sorrow precedes everything else that follows; it is, in fact, the heart of creation and the heart of the universe.
Gurdjieff had his own story for this situation, and he did not specifically elaborate on the deep roots I am describing; yet the sorrow is linked to the relentless action of what he called the merciless heropass, or Time. The sorrow arises from the fact that it is impossible to create the universe — which must of necessity exist — without time, which causes all things to ultimately pass and be destroyed.
It is an arising of Love that folds its own destruction into itself; and the sorrow arises because it is impossible to preserve anything, even though every single iteration and manifestation of created reality contains within itself the unsurpassable perfection of Love, with all of its consequent characteristics and qualities.
Moving on to the point of all of this, what is blended into the experience of suffering — the sorrow of creation, which is part of the material fabric of the universe — is not joy.
It is Love.
That is to say, it consists of an even higher rate of vibration and principle than joy, or bliss, or any other word that can be used to describe it. Love is the highest principle; and when we experience what we think of, especially at decayed rates of vibration, as joy, what we are really experiencing are various "echoes" of Love, which is not quite the same thing at all.
If we were to distill all the joy that were ever emanated and experienced by beings all over the universe, we would discover Love. It is this sublime force that we sense along with sorrow; and indeed, suffering on behalf of this Love is the greatest spiritual reward of all.